I recently returned to work after a three-month maternity leave. While I missed writing, I was happy to take a break from some aspects of work life. Email. Conference calls. But do you know what I was happy to see again when I logged back into my computer?
My old friend Basecamp.
Basecamp is what I’ve used to coordinate all of my work projects for years, and I missed the way Basecamp organized my day (and by extension, my brain).
My team at Rep Cap uses Basecamp to manage content marketing projects — the strategy and execution of content we create for clients and for our own brands, like Managing Editor. Every single deliverable starts in Basecamp. We managed this blog post in Basecamp. I’m working on the “write draft” to-do right now.
I’m always curious to find out how other content marketing teams organize their work, so I asked a few more Basecamp customers how they use the platform for content marketing production.
Here’s our review of Basecamp for content marketing teams.
How We Use Basecamp for Content Marketing
Build a Content Marketing Process
Content marketing only works if you have good ideas and a strong process. Basecamp is where our process lives.
We have created a repeatable process for every kind of content. We know every single step and assignment. We turn that process into a to-do list in Basecamp. Here’s what the to-do list for this blog post looks like:
I like that Basecamp adds accountability and a visual timeline for every deliverable. Everyone on the team knows the status of a project, what has to happen next and when it’s going to happen. We can share ideas, ask questions and flag steps that may cause problems or delays. Instead of bugging my coworkers about the status of a draft, I can just look in Basecamp — and focus on the ideas instead of the logistics.
Keep a Distributed Team Connected
Jared Dovers is COO of the 23-person content marketing agency WordSouth. WordSouth produces hyperlocal content like magazines and bill inserts for telecom and utility companies. He says their distributed team of writers, designers and account managers depends on Basecamp to stay on the same page.
“When I came on, everything lived in email,” he says. “There were attachments everywhere, people would get dropped from threads — it was chaos.” Jared and his team knew there had to be a better way, and their search for a project-management tool led them to Basecamp. It took a little convincing to move people out of their inboxes and into Basecamp, but the platform has been user-friendly. “If you can use Facebook, you can use Basecamp,” he says.
The WordSouth team uses Basecamp’s team function to divide tasks for design, editorial and account management. Basecamp helps team members stay personally connected, too. They use the companywide Campfire message board to share personal updates, like pictures from across the Southeast on a recent snow day.
“There are some great project management tools out there, but as a culture tool, I haven’t seen anything that touches Basecamp,” he says.
Organize a Long List of Projects
Laure Helemski is client services lead at the agency SVM Marketing Solutions. She says her team uses Basecamp to organize their many different client projects and deadlines.
“Basecamp works well to keep us on track with to-dos and deadlines. We do so much for so many clients. Basecamp helps us make sure all the points are checked off,” she says.
At weekly meetings, the team pulls up the assignment list in Basecamp to see what everyone’s working on. People can ask for help on assignments they’re unsure about or learn something new by working with someone on a task.
Plus, Basecamp is a central repository for all of the files and information tied to a project. “We use it to keep a history of everything. If someone’s sick or on vacation, we can look back and see everything that’s been going on. If your computer crashes, all of the docs are in Basecamp.”
What We Don’t Love About Basecamp
But Basecamp isn’t always perfect. There are a few missing features that bug even the most diehard fans.
It’s Hard to Get a Big-Picture View
“Where Basecamp struggles is pulling things together across many different projects into one view,” Jared says. “I wish Basecamp had that large overview ability, where I could see all the moving parts together.” When Basecamp doesn’t give them the view they need, his team compensates by using Trello to visualize big projects.
It’s Not Ideal for Working with People Outside Your Organization
Basecamp 3, the most current version of the tool, has a feature called “Clientside” that lets you send updates to external clients and partners in email conversations, without giving them full access to your work in Basecamp. But that could be a downside to Clientside.
Laure says a lot of her clients don’t like Basecamp 3 because they can’t see the entire thread — their window into the project is narrow. “For project management, Basecamp is good,” she says, “but external communication is tricky.”
[EDITOR’S NOTE: In April 2018, Basecamp announced an update that fully integrates client communication into Basecamp 3: “Now you can work with clients using all the same tools you already use with your team. That means you can assign clients to-dos, share files and folders, schedule events and meetings, chat around the Campfire, and even ask clients automatic check-in questions! If you can do it with your team, you can do it with your clients. And now it all happens in the same place as the rest of the project — no more separate Clientside.”]
Overall, both Jared and Laure said they’d recommend Basecamp to other content marketing teams. Basecamp keeps teams organized, and I’ve seen that it’s a good fit for content marketing projects, whether you’re working on content for one brand or 20 different clients.
You can even use Basecamp to organize your personal life. I know an 11-year-old who has an overdue to-do to unload the dishwasher right now.
Looking for advice about a specific content marketing technology? Let us know what we should review next!
This post was updated on April 25, 2018.